Say “Meh” to the Dress: What I Wore

In my previous wedding-dress post, written before the wedding, I expressed my dissatisfaction with wedding-dress shopping and my hope that Kevin would love my dress. I’m happy to report that he did, indeed, love what I picked and my makeup—which is saying a lot because, usually, he complains that I don’t wear enough makeup. As I arrived next to him at the end of the aisle, his eyes lit up and he told me I looked beautiful. Mission accomplished.

My dress was from David’s Bridal (hell on Earth), but it was from the store’s party-dress section and is technically not a wedding dress. But when I tried it on and found that it fit perfectly and would require no alterations, and that it was affordable and flattering for my body type, I didn’t care; it was a good-enough dress for me. (You can see even more photos of my dress and our wedding here on the blog.)

Straight-on shot of my dress.

 

Front detail and accessories.

All of my accessories (except for my earrings, which I already owned) were from Amazon. Since the dress had a Grecian/gold theme, I bought a snake armband, though I had difficulty finding one that was more decorative than terrifying. For the plunging neckline, I needed something delicate yet long, so I went with a simple chevron necklace. I wanted a little bit of bling for my hair, so I thought I would try a gold headband. I discovered, however, that this particular headband looked terrible on my forehead (where it was supposed to go) and did not provide the subtle effect I had hoped it would. My mom suggested wearing it on the back of my head and pinning it into place, which looked much less obtrusive, so we went with that.

For shoes, my mom purchased me some appropriately themed gladiator heels that we didn’t know until the last minute were the perfect height for the dress. They were annoying to snap in place, and the heels kept getting stuck in the grooves of the wood planks at the ceremony site, but they were fun and Kevin loved them.

My shoes, which were hidden by my dress but I wore them nonetheless.

Early on, I had decided that my mother and I could take care of my hair and makeup ourselves. Having put one daughter through competitive baton twirling and one daughter through musical theater and competitive dance, she had made up her fair share of faces. Plus, she spent years styling our hair into up-dos for proms and homecomings, so she’s no novice. In the end, I did most of my makeup and hair myself, but she provided guidance and a helping hand for pinning in my headpiece.

Since I had jewelery in my hair, I wanted to keep my mane simple; I just straightened it and pinned the front back into the headpiece. The humidity of the morning caused my hair to frizz a little, but that’s life.

As for makeup, I spent some time watching YouTube videos on wedding-makeup ideas and techniques. Most videos advocated for piling tons of concealer and goop on one’s face to be the epitome of perfection on one’s wedding day. I, however, wanted to keep it simple and real, though I did follow the basic advice and color combinations of this makeup tutorial. I wanted a natural, light look, since we were having a daytime, spring wedding. For my entire face, I started with the present by Philosophy (a clear makeup) and topped that with a CoverGirl foundation + sunscreen in “classic ivory” (which is a nice way of saying, “you’re so pale you’re almost clear”). For my eyes, I used my E.L.F. box of a bajillion eyeshadow colors (OK, so there are only like 50 colors, but it’s more eyeshadow than I’ll ever need), Tattoo Liner (the best eyeliner ever and probably the single most expensive makeup item I own), and some random mascara. For an amateur, I was proud of how it turned out; Kevin was surprised that I did it myself!

Since I was going natural, and because I know how much Kevin loves a girl with lipstick, I decided to have some fun with my lips and chose a “British Red” lipstick.

Here you can see my eyeshadow colors.

Close-up of makeup and hair.

And that’s that! In all, it took me about an hour and a half to get ready, plus about ten minutes the night before when my sister, niece, and I painted our toes and fingernails together. Not having to rush around to a hair stylist and a makeup artist made the morning more enjoyable and less chaotic—and, of course, much less expensive!

 

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Say “Meh” to the Dress

Ahhhh, dress shopping…the most wonderful day for a bride. It’s that special day when she gathers up her female entourage and heads to a fancy store, where she is waited on, hand and foot, as she tries on dress after dress (accompanied by “ooo”s and “aaah”s) in search of that heart-stopping ensemble that will remind her betrothed exactly why he (or she…) chose her. It is a magical day full of giggling, champagne, hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars, and, yes, even a few tears.

But that’s not how it really is…at least, not for the bride on a budget. For the budget bride, wedding-dress shopping is more like a frustrating trip to the Walmart clothing section.

Despite spending nearly 2 years checking thrift stores for used dresses, all I ever found were A) dresses from the ’80s in styles that aren’t yet vintage enough to be considered eclectic or flattering and B) my sister’s wedding dress. My dream of organically finding an amazing vintage dress abandoned, I gathered my mother, sister, and very patient 5-year-old niece and headed for the Walmart of dress shops: David’s Bridal.

Now isn’t that special?

David’s Bridal (DB) tries to exude a feeling of luxury and uniqueness. You get paired with a dress consultant (AKA, a minimum-wage worker bee whose job is to take dresses out of bags, hand them to you, and put them back into bags, and also to scorn you for either A) wasting her time because you’re buying an inexpensive dress or B) being a spoiled bitch who has no budget) who parades you around the store trying to figure out your “style.” Their real job, of course, is to up-sell you and show you dresses that are out of your very clearly stated price range (as close to $100 as possible, please!), bring in all sorts of over-priced accessories hoping you’ll fall in love with them, and remind you that you’ll need a “going-away dress.” (I realize this has been a thing for some time now, but I still think it’s completely ridiculous!)

Now, my lady was very nice, and she didn’t seem too put off when I told her my budget. For me, the wedding dress, while important to this one particular day in my life, is virtually meaningless. Like my mother and sister, I will most likely never wear this dress again, and it will hang in my closet until my niece decides to marry someone, at which point she’ll try it on just for shits and giggles and then laugh at how out of style it is. Why would I want to spend more than $100 on that?

The job of the DB sales ladies is to convince you otherwise. They will try to convince you that this is your special day and money does not matter. But there is no place or time in this universe where you can ever tell me that money doesn’t matter and I will take you seriously.

So we looked at the $100 dresses and a few dresses that were marked down to the $150 range. I had seen two dresses on the DB website that I thought would be perfect for me, but, of course, they weren’t quite as adorable when not on a size-zero, Photoshopped model. In fact, I hated nearly everything I tried on, because with every dress I tried on, I felt myself die a little on the inside. The best way I can describe how I felt would be to say that I felt like I was searching for a unique craft beer in a store that sold only Natty Lite. Boring dress after boring dress, all of them looking like every other wedding dress I had ever seen. Everything lacked personality and uniqueness.

The dress I almost picked. This was taken the third or fourth time I had tried it on. Look at my FACE.

I finally settled on this satin-y, backless dress, but the store didn’t have my size. Desperate to make a sale, my dress lady called the nearby DBs and found the dress in my size in the Jacksonville store.

At this point, my sister was done with dress shopping. If you’ve ever been to Walmart, you can relate: you can only spend so much time in these stores before you feel yourself losing touch with reality. My mother, however, having made a solemn vow during my sister’s and my births to never let anyone get the best of us, seemed rejuvenated by the the idea of more driving. So we saddled up her giant SUV and burned rubber north.

Once in Jacksonville, I tried on what I thought was “the” dress, except now — 90 miles north and 60 minutes later — I despised this dress too. It hung on me like my grandmother’s moo-moo, despite being a smaller size than the dress in the previous store, and I just knew there was nothing about this dress that Kevin would like, except maybe the fact that it accentuated my shoulders (supposedly his favorite body part).

In an attempt to help me make a decision, the dress consultant at this store suggested taking in the dress to accentuate my waist. She retreated to the back of the store and returned with what I can only describe as a sewing Gollum — a homely, frumpy lady whose job is to sit in a part of the store that the customers can’t see and sew her little hands off all day. I felt sorry for her and gave up on the dress because A) I didn’t want to pay money to alter a dress I already didn’t want to spend money on in the first place and B) I didn’t want to create extra work for this poor creature.

Frustrated, the dress consultant brought me more and more dresses. I must have tried on 15 more dresses, and each time I exited the dressing room, I didn’t come out beaming and teary-eyed; I came out scowling and underwhelmed. My mother even offered to pitch in for the dress, thinking, as she always does, that more expensive things make people happier. I obliged her and tried on some more expensive dresses, but none of them wowed me. They were all just as lame as the cheap dresses, except they had more sparkles on them.

Part of my indecisiveness stemmed from the fact that I was considering whether Kevin would like the dress. My mother told me that finding a dress wasn’t about him, but if you know Kevin, you know how he feels about women’s fashion. And, oh yeah, I most certainly want Kevin to like what I look like just before we sign a contract that binds us to each other for the rest of our lives. I don’t need him getting any last-minute insecurities because my dress fits me like a house-elf sack. Being the attentive, wonderful fiancee that I am, I knew Kevin would want one of two (but preferably both) things out of a wedding dress: short and tight. Thus, if a dress I tried on didn’t meet at least one of those requirements (along with my own, more practical requirement of “hide my crooked scoliosis body”), it was out.

Now, in the background of my own dress crisis were two other women, one to my right and one to my left, who were also trying on dresses. Unlike me, these ladies were surrounded by a horde of women who claimed that every dress their bride-to-be tried on was “the one,” and they were trying on the most ridiculous dresses I have ever seen: gigantic monstrosities of lace and beads that were so over the top I couldn’t help but laugh a little (on the inside, of course). They each loved so many of their dresses that they couldn’t decide which one to pick, while I had the opposite problem: I couldn’t pick because I hated everything.

This met both of Kevin’s requirements, but I look like a bedazzled mummy. Next.

Finally, and because she was probably bored to tears and ready to kill me, the dress consultant brought me a dress from the non-wedding side of the store. (DB also sells party dresses.) I had noticed the dress when I had entered earlier and had pointed it out to my mother, but I hadn’t considered it for a wedding dress because, well, it wasn’t that.

I’m not going to lie and say that when I tried the dress on tiny birds descended from the heavens and fluttered around my body while tweeting a merry tune, but I felt something other than complete disdain.

I strutted around in the non-wedding dress, frowning at myself in the mirror, trying to determine if I really wanted to spend double my budget on this dress. But DB had worn me down. It had eaten me up and spit me out, and so I caved and spent $212 on the dress.

Perhaps it was my nonchalance, or perhaps it was because I didn’t buy a wedding dress, or perhaps it was because the dress consultant wasn’t completely convinced that I was convinced I wanted the dress, but no one rang the stupid “she found the one” bell like the other DB employees were doing for the other brides-to-be. But I don’t think I need to convince any of you that being exempt from yet another cheesy part of this canned experience was fine with me.

So my dress is not what I would have imagined for myself (I wanted short and simple and vintage), but it’s not completely mind-numbing either. More importantly, it was the only dress the invoked more than a “meh” from me. Hopefully, Kevin will feel the same!

Personality Modeling. Subject: Carly.

I used IBM’s Watson User Modeling service on one of Carly’s recent blog posts to obtain an objective analysis of her personality.

The Watson User Modeling service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through text messages, tweets, posts, and more.

Here are the results:

This is her brain on data.

#define carlys_mind()

As you can see, there are some interesting observations here.

  • Carly is extremely agreeable. (99%) – I think this is because she is writing for all of you, because when she is with just me, this metric is closer to -1000%.
  • Carly does not need love. (4%) – I am clearly the perfect fiance; if anything I give her too much love.
  • Carly values self-transcendence. (100%) – She does do yoga.
  • Carly does not seek excitement. (1%) – Can confirm: Carly hates fun.
  • Carly is not self-conscious. (3%) – She is OUT OF CONTROL.
  • Carly have many intellect. (40%) – No comment (see Fiery 63%).

For the record, I am grateful to the NSA and our future computer overlords for their loving attention to our personalities, and I welcome their rule. All hail AI!

A Fairy Tale

I told you in my last post that I would tell you the story of how Carly met Me. This is that tale:

Θnce upon a time there was a little girl who lived far away in the magical land of Gainesville. This little girl was not a normal little girl; she was a type of magical fairy-girl known as a “Nerd.”

Nerd Carly.

The little Nerd girl was very sweet, but also very strange. She refused to dress like normal girls and insisted on wearing nothing but large sacks! And, fortunately for her, she also liked showing up super early for boring lectures put on by the great wizards of the exquisite University of Florida Levin College of Law.

On one such occasion, the little Nerd girl decided to attend the Mystical Music Law Conference. The sign-in time for the conference was announced by the town crier as 8:30 AM, but the little Nerd grimly determined to arrive an hour early, even though the arcane lectures did not actually begin until 9:30. So on that cold and frosty morning, before the sun had even peeked over the horizon, our little Nerd donned her second-best sack and set out on a grand adventure.

Angry coffee!

As the intrepid Nerd left her hovel, trouble was brewing (quite literally) at the College of Law. The coffee elf was late with her magical energy potions! As everyone knows, wizards lose all of their powers and turn into angry trolls if they don’t drink their coffee potions regularly, so this was a BIG problem. Fortunately for everyone, there was a dashing knight working at the College that day.

The courageous knight was also an amazing wizard, and he used his magic mirror to find the lost coffee elf in the eternal desert of the Parking Lot. He waved goodbye to the college courtesans and gallantly rushed out to save the coffee elf, killing 14 dragons, 2 bears, and a cockroach along the way. Upon his arrival, the coffee elf swooned with delight at being rescued by the handsome knight-wizard, who had the strength of 10 men.

While the courageous, handsome, and amazing knight-wizard cared for the swooning coffee elf and began to load the heavy coffee-potion cases and milk jugs onto his pinky finger,

A courageous, handsome, and amazing knight-wizard.

the little Nerd girl was picking her way through the barren parking lot. Being sweet of spirit, when she saw the beleaguered coffee caravan, she rushed over to offer her assistance. The courageous, handsome, and amazing knight-wizard was touched by the little Nerd’s sweetness and pretended to drop one of the milk jugs hanging off the tip of his pinky so that the little Nerd would feel useful.

Even though it was obvious that he had the strength of 10 men and would never actually drop a milk jug, the courageous, handsome, and amazing knight-wizard possessed incredible subtlety, and he was able to trick the little Nerd into thinking that he needed her help! The Nerd picked up the milk jug (which took all of her strength) and began bouncing her way to the College of Law, large sack flapping in the chilly breeze. She was delighted at the privilege of helping the courageous, handsome, and amazing knight-wizard, and he smiled inwardly, enjoying his good deed.

Unfortunately, that smile would soon fade.

Upon reaching the College, the coffee elf cursed. In her excitement at meeting the courageous, handsome, and amazing knight-wizard, she had forgotten the de-energized “Decaf” coffee potions! The knight-wizard flashed his crystalline smile and smirked, “Who drinks decaf?!” mocking the very idea of such a fool. As it happened, the poor little Nerd girl was one such fool, and with a trembling voice full of shame and sadness, she whispered, “I do….”

The little Nerd was terribly embarrassed by her foolish love of decaf coffee potions, but she was even more ashamed that the courageous, handsome, and amazing knight-wizard now knew the horrible truth about her. You see, like so many others, she too had been enchanted by the courageous, handsome, and amazing knight-wizard‘s noble features and charming wit. The poor little Nerd girl turned bright red.

As he observed the Nerd girl’s shame, the gallant smile faded from the lips of the courageous, handsome, and amazing knight-wizard. He felt terribly guilty! Being a noble knight, he immediately decided to try to comfort her. Obviously, because he is amazing at everything, the knight-wizard succeeded.

Mandatory romantic picture.

The courageous, handsome, and amazing knight-wizard and the little Nerd girl exchanged noble tales and silly pointless stories (respectively), and the knight-wizard found the Nerd’s antics so amusing that he invited her to share a coffee potion with him later.

And they lived happily ever after…

Especially after the incredibly fashionable knight-wizard convinced the little Nerd to wear real-people clothes instead of large sacks!

Carly being fashionable.

The Dress

My relationship with Carly, and the reason we are still together, can be summed up in the story of her dress:

The first time I met Carly, she was wearing this flowing sundress that would have looked adorable on any damsel over 80 years of age. It had a lovely floral pattern that would have been perfect for any couch in your grandmother’s house, and the dress was oversized enough to cover a couch too. Why Carly chose to wear this dress on that day will forever be one of the mysteries of her feminine mystique.

However, Carly was so cute and charming that I had to stomach the dress and ask her out. That’s a story for another day; let’s stay focused on the dress:

I am blessed with a very limited attention span and a terrible memory, so I was easily able to force the dress out of my mind and focus on the better parts of Carly’s wardrobe. I forgot about the dress. Looking back, I now know why Carly had this funny little secret smile everytime she wore her grandma camouflage (grandmaflage™?) – she thought I loved the dress. I didn’t.

Over the course of our relationship Carly slowly updated her wardrobe, and I saw less and less of the dress. But one day out of the blue Carly decided to forgo her hip new clothes to wear this hideous dress that didn’t even fit. I must have looked flabergasted, because Carly flashed me her little secret smile and said something like:

“Don’t you recognize this?”

(Yes.” I thought, “It’s one of the curtains from the nursing home!) But I held on to my poker face and played along… “No?

This is the dress I was wearing when we first met! *giggles* *smiles* *blushes*”

Oh! Right! Now I recognize it!” And I did. I tried my best to hide behind a fake smile as the memories came crashing back. All those little secret smiles suddenly made so much sense. And I realized that I would now have to live with this dress for the rest of my life. I couldn’t tell her! Could I? No! Maybe if I were really subtle…maybe if it “accidentally” caught fire? But she looks so happy! I can’t do it…

I think my smile must have frozen into a rictus as Carly asked, “What is it?”

Ummm…. “I’m just so overcome with emotion…you know…remembering how we first met and all…” It’s technically not a lie, right?

And so it went on. Carly only got prettier, but for every special occasion she wore her best dress. We go to Taco Bell and Carly dresses like a supermodel – we go to a white tablecloth place and Carly dresses like…well you get the idea by now. I didn’t know what to do.

I couldn’t tell her! It would devastate her. Right?

That’s the thing about Carly that I didn’t realize until the moment I told her about the dress. She’s tiny but she’s tough. Well, I knew she was tough – the bruises attest to that, but I didn’t realize how well she can handle my overly critical ridiculous neuroticism.

I never wanted to get married because I really believe that if you love something you have to let it go. If it takes a contract to keep you together, then you don’t belong together. I never wanted anyone to stay with me out of obligation. And making love into a contract felt like a cold, bitter destruction of all of the romantic ideals of love.

The night I finally broke down, she had brought up the dress, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had to tell her the truth. I expected Carly to be crushed. I flinched, waiting for tears, wailing…and more bruises. But none of that happened.

I told her I hated that dress. She looked puzzled for a moment, and then that secret little smile spread across her face.

That’s when I knew that with Carly things were different. She didn’t care about the love contract, she just loved me. So, I was able to stop caring about the contract too.

…Since we are going to have a contract though, one of her vows better be to “Never wear that dress again as long as we both shall live.”